TT-485 -- Holiday Homes in the Mountains, ebiz news from Japan

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E 'S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, September 15, 2008 Issue No. 485

+++ INDEX

- What's new
- News
- Candidate roundup/Vacancies
- Upcoming events
- Corrections/Feedback
- News credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW

Some interesting things going on in real estate here in
Japan. Firstly the bad news. In Q2 this year, the value of
real estate transactions by REITs and listed companies
dropped by 51% over the same period last year. The main
reason for this was that the demand for condominiums by the
buying public have plunged dramatically, resulting in condo
sales being off by a remarkable 84%. We are now in the
midst of a severe credit crunch locally and many of the
recently listed REITs are having to sell off their assets
to foreign investors, who have picked their timing well. We
expect more REITs to go bust, or to get bought out.

Now, much of this news involves speculation and
institutions, and so is not entirely relevant for the man
in the street -- other than the fact that people are
putting off buying somewhere new to live. But there is an
interesting new trend developing, that of foreigners
(individuals, not companies) who are independently
purchasing real estate here in Japan. This trend was kicked
off by the availability of loans to non-permanent foreign
residents by Shinsei and other banks about 4-5 years ago,
then reinforced by Australian interest in the Niseko ski
fields in Hokkaido, and has since started picking up steam
on a broader front.

Just last week a Japanese web site providing tourism
information for Russian visitors, started running real
estate listings also in Russian. The firm feels that as
with the Australians, as Russians become familiar with Japan
-- they're visiting Otaru from the oil fields of Sakhalin
in droves, then they also start thinking about buying
land to put holiday homes on. No reports of an actual
purchases yet, but given the level of activity by Russian
property purchasers in Europe, we don't think it will take
long.

[Continued below...]

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[...Article continues]

Australia's fascination with Niseko has provided the real
impetus for Japanese regional players to start realizing
that temporary foreign residents are desirable as land
owners and should be serviced. There are now more than
15,000 Australians traveling to Niseko every winter, to
ski on the dry powder snow that it is famous for. An
Australian-owned realtor, Hokkaido Tracks, whom we've
been following for some years, has announced that they plan
to construct 17 luxury condos at the Furano ski resort,
further north, selling the 58 sq. m. -- 133 sq. m. units

for prices ranging between JPY40m (US$370k) -- JPY125m
(US$1.16m).

Yes, these are Tokyo prices, and there is no way that
anyone in that area could have imagined it would ever get
this crazy. But, when you have a great concept (i.e.,
fantastic powder snow in a safe country just hours away), a
solid consumer demand (Asians are starting to join the
Australians), and an emerging internationalized
infrastructure which removes foreigners from the
inconveniences of Japanese language and Japanese
developers, then anything is possible -- even in rural
Japan.

Buying land as a foreigner is not that hard, especially if
you're looking for a holiday home outside of the major
cities. There are no residency requirements, and so long as
you have cash, realtors are happy to deal with all-comers
-- especially since in many rural areas the market for
spare land has been in a deep funk for 18 years or more.
The realtor fee is generally around 3% of the purchase
price. To be sure, there is paperwork involved and taxes,
utilities, and other fees to be paid, so you will need a
Japanese bilingual lawyer or representative. But this is
only as hard as a web search and some calls to bilingual
law offices, property managers, and/or translation
companies.

Once a non-resident has taken possession of the land, they
can come in on a tourist visa as often as they want, with
the excuse that they're here to check their investment.
They would typically come in on the standard 90-day (30
days for some countries) visa. Even though they are non-
resident, foreigners can open a bank account to autopay
taxes and bills, by going to the local city office and
asking them to validate that the fact that the person is a
property-owner.

There are a surprising number of homes and land plots for
sale in picturesque parts of the country, making them ideal
for holiday homes, and we imagine that it won't be long
before Korean and Chinese buyers start to realize what the
Australians have: fun, food, friends, fascination, and
'furo, all at reasonable prices. We can envisage a
situation where an inflow of foreign real estate
investors into rural and coastal areas will make up for the
ongoing exodus of young Japanese to the cities.

If you have the cash ready to go, the land is available.
But what if you have to borrow some of the money? Certainly
your hometown bank isn't going to have the ability nor the
tie-ups necessary to value land located somewhere deep in
the Japanese countryside. We know from personal experience
that even Tokyo City banks are generally unable to value
property outside the major populated areas.

One answer is the availability of yen-based home loans to
non-permanent resident foreigners living and working in
Japan. As we mentioned earlier, Shinsei was an early mover
in this space, and back in 2005 was offering 5-year fixed
loans at just 1% interest. But while there has been no
formal announcement from Shinsei to the contrary, we have
heard that the bank is now less interested in foreigners
and mortgages than it once was. Alternatives include Suruga
Bank and some of the Japanese major city banks. However,
almost all of these loans are for owner-occupied residences.

Several months back, however, the National Australia Bank
(NAB) started advertising the availability of yen-based
loans for Japan-based non-permanent residents. The rate is
2% over the interbank lending rate, which still means
interest under 5%, and they will loan up to 80% of the
property value if the loan is in yen.

Perhaps the most important point is that they will lend to
buyers wanting to purchase investment or holiday property.

Because Japanese real estate prices outside of the cities
have been falling for so long, the rest of the world has
caught up and in many cases, passed right by. This means
that there are some amazing deals in rural Japan. We did a
little trawling on the web, through both foreign and
Japanese websites, to find out what was available. How
about a weekend getaway 3-4 hours from Tokyo in Kusano
village, Souma-gun, Fukushima Prefecture? This quaint
cottage on 105 tsubo (348 sq. m.) of land would swathed in
snow during the winter and be picture postcard perfect. It
is a snip at just JPY3m (US$28,000).

http://tinyurl.com/5h75wv

Moving up the price scale, but still very good value is a
genuine antique minka with a thatched roof, located in an
exclusive part of Hakone, 1-2 hours west of Tokyo. This
home comes with its own natural hot springs and sits on a
third of an acre of land (1,537 sq. m.). It's priced at
JPY120m (US$1.1m). Drilling a new hot spring well alone can
cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to get
permission.

http://tinyurl.com/5uaclj

Another popular destination for residents of Tokyo, Nagoya,
and Osaka is the Hakuba ski resort in Nagano Prefecture. It
only takes 4 hours by train to get there, and the snow is
apparently usually very ski-able -- although perhaps not as
dry nor deep as Niseko much further to the north. There
are plenty of small holiday plots and residences for sale
in the area, many of which were built during the land
bubble of the early nineties, and which have since fallen
into disrepair. Check out the listings at:

http://www.hakuba-fudousan.com/

Lastly, if you're looking for somewhere a bit closer to
Tokyo, perhaps even somewhere you could commute from, then
check out this house on a hill overlooking Zushi Bay and
Mount Fuji -- fantastic views and sunsets. 2-3 bedrooms,
double car garage, refurbished just this year with modern
appliances and conveniences through-out, all for just
JPY750,000/month (US$6,945/month).

http://tinyurl.com/58qwl5

...The information janitors/

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+++ NEWS

- Surge in online attacks from Japan
- Japan No. 1 in broadband
- Kyoto U. gets first stem cell patent
- Pet prayers not tax-deductible
- International M&As by J co's triples

-> Surge in online attacks from Japan

A study by content distribution company, Akamai, has found
that in the second quarter of 2008, Japan was the source of
30% of all the world's Denial of Service (DOS), site
hacking, and DNS attacks. The USA was the second most
prevalent source with 21.5% of attacks. Akamai is at a loss
to say why this is happening, since Japan only accounted
for 3.6% of global attacks in the previous quarter. ***Ed:
One likely reason is that some major networks in Japan may
have been successfully compromised and attached as drones
to an attack network.** (Source: TT commentary from
pcworld.com, Sep 13, 2008)

http://tinyurl.com/6mf4zx

-> Japan No. 1 in broadband

A study of broadband performance in 42 countries, conducted
by MBA students at Oxford University, has found that only
Japan has the network quality to cope with both today's and
near-future web-centric software applications. The students
hooked up with www.speedtest.net, and went through 8m
records to look at such factors as upload and download
speeds, packet loss, and latency. They assessed which
countries consistently yielded the best results and Japan
easily came out on top, followed by Sweden, Holland, Latvia
(?!), and Korea. (Source: TT commentary from bbc.co.uk, Sep
13, 2008)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7610534.stm

-> Kyoto U. gets first stem cell patent

A research team at Kyoto University has been awarded a
Japanese patent for its work in creating stem cells from
human skin rather than from embryos. The university said
that the patent will both protect future work from
pharmaceutical companies piggybacking on the research, and
also to create a stream of income to fund further research.
This is the first time a patent has been awarded to cover
stem cell research. Another Japanese research group has
also found a way to create stem cells from wisdom teeth.
***Ed: We reported some months ago in a dental care
editorial that a Kansai company is already selling wisdom
teeth storage services, so that people 40 years later can
have their preserved wisdom teeth implanted to replace
diseased teeth.** (Source: TT commentary from
afp.google.com, Sep 13, 2008)

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jNVVKEatjDMM-ymSa_83MT-DZHpw

-> Pet prayers not tax-deductible

It was a good try, but the supreme court has just ruled
against a group of Buddhist temples that wanted pet
funerals classified as tax-deductible donations, as are
human funerals. The court said that pet funerals had none
of the usual characteristics of religious donations, since
the funerary price menu is very detailed. On the other
hand, human funerals are based on the bereaved family's
making "donations" to temples for the services. ***Ed: Of
course everyone knows what the amount of donation is
supposed to be -- because the price is verbally relayed by
the funeral director from the monks to the bereaved family!
So we think the supreme court is being disingenuous on
making this the point of differentiation. On the other
hand, real world logic was never the strong point of
Japan's judiciary in any case...** (Source: TT commentary
from inquirer.net, Sep 13, 2008)

http://tinyurl.com/4mcggr

-> International M&As by J co's triples

Maybe the Nikkei read our editorial last week :-), because
this week they have reported that Japanese companies are
using their surplus cash to do a near-record number of
foreign M&A's this year so far. Apparently deals thru' to
the end of August 2008 were worth JPY4.56trn, a 180%
increase over the same period last year. Only 2006 was
larger, with JPY8.6trn for the whole year, and who knows,
2008 may yet surpass that record. (Source: TT commentary
from nikkei.co.jp, Sep 13, 2008)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20080912D12JFF01.htm

NOTE: Broken links
Many online news sources remove their articles after just a
few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we
apologize for the inconvenience.

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expanded our IT Help Desk to increase support for foreign
companies in Japan, both large and small. We'd like to
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and is staffed by experienced, bilingual IT engineers with
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service.

For more information, visit our website at www.biosjp.com,
or contact us directly at solutions@biosjp.com
-----------------------------------------------------------

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CANDIDATE ROUND UP/VACANCIES

=> LINC Japan Ltd., an affiliate of the LINC Media group,
is actively marketing the following positions for market
entry customers setting up in Japan, as well as other
employers of bilinguals.

** HIGHLIGHTED POSITION(S)

BiOS is looking for a skilled and highly experienced Voice
systems professional to enter this enterprise level
position at a prestigious global financial services
institution. In this role the successful candidate will be
required to take part in a rolling pipeline of projects
related to not only Japan, but the entire pacific rim
area, from Australia to India and everywhere in between
where our client has presence.

For this opening we are especially eager to talk with
candidates who have a CCIE qualification, and experience
working at regional and enterprise level on voice systems.
As you will be involved not just in Japan-based projects
but also work spreading across the whole APAC region the
suitable candidates will be those who can apply their
skills to a global setting. In addition this role requires
exceptional English language ability, and a confident
individual who can interact easily with vendors and
demanding end users.

Remuneration is JPY8m – JPY10m, based on your
experience.

** POSITIONS VACANT

- N/w proj. mgr. in investment bank, JPY8m – JPY10m
- Data Center operations staff in Osaka, JPY5m – JPY6m
- Unix Security Application Administrator, JPY4.5m – JPY6m
- Change Management Administrator, JPY4.5 – JPY6m
- IT Support in a well known retail bank – JPY3m – JPY6m

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
stuart.gibson@biosjp.com

** BiOS Job Mail

Every 2 weeks BiOS sends out a regular communication to its
job seeking candidates, called BiOS Job Mail. Every edition
carries a list of BiOS's current and most up-to-date
vacancies, with each entry featuring a short job
description and a direct link to the main entry on the BiOS
home page. Regardless of whether you are unemployed and
searching, thinking about a career change, or just curious
to know if there is something out there that might suit you
better, the BiOS Job Mail newsletter is an easy and
convenient way for you to stay informed. If you would like
to register for the BiOS Job Mail, or to find out more,
please email stuart.gibson@biosjp.com.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to:
stuart.gibson@biosjp.com

-----------------------------------------------------------

+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS

------------------------- JMEC ----------------------------

The Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC) will conduct
information sessions for attendees to learn about the
15th year of this experiential business training program.

Sessions are free but registration is required.
Sep 18th, Oct 1, October 14, 7:30pm-9:00pm,
Temple University Japan Campus.

www.jmec.gr.jp to register.
-----------------------------------------------------------

------------------- YMCA Charity Ball ---------------------

YMCA/FCSC 2008 Grand Gala Charity Ball:

One of the international community's most anticipated
social events of the year, the FCSC will hold their 2008
Grand Gala Charity Ball on October 17th at the Hilton
Shinjuku.

This year's event will feature Beatlemania as the theme,
with one of Japan's best known cover bands, the Beatle
Dollar Band. The evening also features fine wine, five
course dinner, dancing, and a grand raffle draw.

The highlight of the evening will be a Live Auction
including a guitar signed by Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo
Starr, other rare Beatles memorabilia, a guitar signed by
Led Zeppelin, photos of Tiger Woods, Harry Potter items,
and many more sports, cinema, and rock memorabilia.

All proceeds go to benefit the YMCA's Challenged Children
Project (CCP). Donations are 25,000 yen/per person, with a
10% discount for table reservations (10 persons). Special
overnight accommodation is available at the Hilton only for
YMCA/FCSC guests.

Attendance is limited so please contact the FCSC office;
03-5367-6640, fcsc@ymcajapan.org for tickets and more
information.
-----------------------------------------------------------

----------------- ICA Event - Sept 11 ---------------------

Event: SUMMER NETWORKING PARTY!!

Topic: Joint event with ACCJ ICT Committee and the
Indian IT Club

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, Sept 11, 2008
Time: 6:30-8:30pm - includes open bar and buffet
Cost: 6,000 yen (members), 7,000 yen (non-members)
Open to all: venue is Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

http://www.fccj.or.jp/aboutus/map
-----------------------------------------------------------

--------------- Cricket in Hokkaido -----------------------

RidgeRunner Niseko International Cricket Competition
20-21 September 2008

Join us as a player, spectator or to party for two days of
fun at Niseko's annual charity cricket tournament.
Hosted by international greats Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh,
the event benefits the Tyler Foundation for Childhood Cancer
and Hokkaido International School through our Hokkaido-
style glamour charity dinner dance and auction.

For more information, please visit www.ezocricketclub.com
or contact Billeigh Waaha 080-3597-6307
or e-mail cricket@rad-development.com

Thanks to our sponsors RidgeRunner, TK6, Paddy Foley's,
Commonwealth Bank, Green Leaf Hotel, National Australia
Bank, Hokkaido Tracks, Australian Meat and Livestock,
ANZCCJ, Village Cellars, Metropolis, Japan Inc, Peter
Lehman Wines, Black Diamond Lodge, and Niseko Physio.
-----------------------------------------------------------

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-----------------------------------------------------------
______________________________________________________
Events announcements are priced at JPY50,000 per week.
For more information, contact sales at japaninc.com

***------------------------****-------------------------***

+++ CORRECTIONS/FEEDBACK

In this section we run comments and corrections submitted
by readers. We encourage you to spot our mistakes and
amplify our points, by email, to editors@terrie.com.

No feedback or comments this week.

---------------- Market Entry Services --------------------

Paccess Inc helps you 'Go Global Now!'

For over 10 years, Paccess Inc has assisted companies with
market entry, strategic partner search, and trade
development in the US, Japan, and Latin America.

To expand your business in overseas markets,
visit www.paccess.com, or contact info@paccess.NET
(English, Japanese, or Spanish OK).
-----------------------------------------------------------

***********************************************************
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+++ ABOUT US

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Newsletter:

Comments

Interesting reading about how many Aussies come over to Niseko, as well as the increasing number of other nationalities.

Keep up the interesting weekly news.

Niseko is popular with Aussies, but the Japan and other Asian countries way out number the Aussie population easily.

A large increase has come from the Honk Kong market in the last two years, as they like the Aussie population are investing in Japan real estate.

business